Working in partnership with businesses to unlock opportunities for trade

Key points:

  • £20 million over 3 years to support our new plan ‘A trading nation: our plan for growing Scotland’s exports’
  • Increase the involvement of private sector expertise, facilitating peer-to-peer networking and learning to grow our exports and imports
  • A new Food and Drink 5-Year Export Plan

A Trading Nation is a plan for growing Scotland’s exports was launched by the First Minister in May 2019. It is a comprehensive and evidence based, living document that will be regularly updated to allow Scottish businesses to realise their exporting potential in existing and new markets and to secure new international opportunities.


We will meet our trade ambitions by growing our exports from 20% to 25% of GDP making our economy even more international

The document sets out a number of actions that the Scottish Government and our delivery partners will work together to deliver on. We will continually review and refine these actions and interventions to ensure that they are delivering for businesses and for Scotland’s economy.

It sets out the priority markets where the biggest opportunities to grow Scotland’s exports exist. Headline actions from A Trading Nation’s 27 projects include:

  • Adding up to 15 in-market specialists to the countries that make up more than two thirds of our export opportunities
  • Scaling up trade promotion activity in priority markets with expanded international missions and exhibition programming – with 68 Scottish Development International (SDI) events planned for 2019/20
  • Providing up to £2 million to support a programme of inward and outward visits delivered by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce network
  • Increasing the network of GlobalScot business representatives abroad from 600 to 2,000 people in key markets, including expanding to 500 in Europe
  • Increasing the number of trade envoys, potentially from four to 12

We continue to engage in a comprehensive programme of Ministerial visits overseas with a trade and investment focus. Since being appointed as Scotland’s first dedicated Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee has visited 14 of our 15 priority markets, meeting with businesses and investors and fostering positive relationships with governments and stakeholders.

In November 2018 the First Ministers Export Challenge was launched. The Export Challenge will invest up to £2 million over 3 years to support 50 existing exporters per year to ramp-up overseas activity.

Businesses participating in the programme can expect to work closely with their mentor business and will be able to access further sources of export advice and support.

This portal allows businesses to register interest in the Export Challenge. For a business to become a mentor (or Export Champion) they must be an experienced exporter, willing to invest time with mentees, interested in sharing expertise, knowledge and insight to support the growth of a Scottish based businesses and willing to open their whole business to support the mentoring where required.

For a business to be mentored they must have a product or service that is ready for market and be either new to exporting or have plans to enter into an international market. They should also demonstrate a commitment to increasing their exporting or internationalisation as a result of the programme.

We will work closely with companies in order to understand the uptake of export finance and to help them navigate the export finance system and in partnership with the public and private sector use a marketing campaign on export finance to help businesses navigate the complex landscape around access to finance.

Working with SDI, we will extend the financial advice support available to companies, building on the trade advisor work already taking place and continue to work with experts in the trade board to identify other actions we can take over the longer term to help businesses access appropriate export finance, including export insurance. Our enterprise agencies will segment and offer more tailored support to our exporters.

Our specialist international trade advisers based in Glasgow work closely with a network of over 40 in-market specialists spread across more than 33 international locations to identify the right opportunities and partners for Scottish based businesses.

We are continuing to reshape our overseas networks, this includes expanding, redeploying, and strengthening our network of in-market sector specialists working in priority overseas markets to identify untapped potential and connect it with Scottish business.

We are upskilling our overseas networks through economic diplomacy training so they are better equipped to identify and support interventions on market access matters.

Key resources:

Scottish Government: International Trade Policy

Scottish Enterprise: Support for Businesses

Scottish Government: Ministerial Trade Board

Scottish Enterprise: Business Guides

Global Scotland: trade and investment strategy 2016-2021